Kingswells Community Council Response to Prime Four Planning Applications

1.0 Introduction

Kingswells Community Council (KCC) have been working with Drum Properties and the proposed layout and quality of the development is generally acceptable to the community. We have some concerns / objections regarding the roads and environmental issues that need to be addressed.

Most of our comments are about the roads around Kingswells. We have major concerns about the ability of the roads system to cope with future traffic volumes, particularly at peak times, and think there are some shortcomings in the Traffic Assessment (TA). We would like ACC Roads Department to include our comments in their assessment.

Other comments identify the impact the proposed changes will have on the Local Community and the members of the public who use the Park & Ride (P&R) and the Core Path / Cycleway on the boundary of the development.

If our comments (shown thus) are addressed in a satisfactory manner then the development including the suggested modifications would then be more acceptable to the community.

2.0 Planning Restrictions

The application is for Class 4 business use which is acceptable to the community. KCC note that this allows for the change of use to Class 6 without a further planning application. KCC has real concerns about change of use in the future and request that restrictions are placed on the current applications to prevent a change of use at any time with or without a planning application.

Future planning applications will include an area known as the Hub. Mixed use should be limited to this area.

3.0 Prime Four Development

 

3.1 The New Prime Four Roundabout

The proposal for Phase 1 is for 1,300 employees and future phases with between 2,500 and 3,000 employees i.e. up to 4,300 employees in total.

KCC note that the proposed plans show that the majority of the Prime Four development and the traffic from the 950 vehicles from Park and Ride share one spur off the new roundabout. Plot 1 of the development has exclusive use of a second spur off the roundabout. KCC question if this is the most effective use of the infrastructure. The best flow of traffic will be achieved where the flow of traffic on both spurs is equalised.

KCC request that officials verify that the TA is based on 100% utilisation of the Park and Ride facility. The assessment should not be limited to the current use of the P&R.

Traffic lights control the current exit for the P&R at peak times. This ensures easy access to the A944. The proposed road layout would result in P&R users joining the traffic queuing at the new roundabout via a left turn junction. The traffic flow of the 950 vehicles from the P&R would be subject to the generosity of other road users letting them merge with the main access road. The TA does not assess the flow or traffic within the development. Roads officials should ensure that the flow of traffic from the new exit to the P&R is not impacted by the proposed road layout within the development. Provision should be made for traffic control at this junction if this is required at a future date.

3.2 Core Path / Cycleway to Westhill

The development utilises the existing walking and cycling routes which is desirable. However, the development has a detrimental affect on the people using these facilities to go to other destinations. The main impact is on cyclists.
 

In order to encourage cyclists to use a cycleway it is essential to remove delays. The current layout introduces significant delay to cyclist who will not be able to cross the road whilst vehicles are moving on any of the four spurs on the roundabout. Delays on the existing crossing at the P&R with its low usage were minimal.


If adequate provision is not made for cyclists then they will use the road which defeats the philosophy of providing a cycleway. Cycling on the A944 is not desirable from a safety point of view.


The proposed arrangement should include timing on the lights to allow a cyclist to clear the roundabout before the next phase of lights begins. This would have significant impact on the traffic flow. The TA should take account of the ‘dead time’ required to allow cycles to clear the roundabout. KCC request that ACC verify that this has been done.


One possible solution to provide cyclists with minimum delay, and to ensure they do not use the road would be to provide an underpass. This would allow maximum flow of traffic for other road users. CCTV linked to the development security system would be required to deal with safety issues associated with using underpasses in a remote area.


Other solutions may be possible, but if they do not ensure cyclists stay off the road then the TA should include the ‘dead time’ on the signals to allow cyclists to use the roundabout safely.


A crossing should be provided for pedestrians and cyclists that don’t use an underpass.  The crossing should be located far enough back from the roundabout to allow safe use of a Toucan crossing at off-peak times. It is important to avoid the design flaws of the A944 / Lang Stracht roundabout.

3.3  Footpath between the P&R and the development

The footpath between the P&R and the development crosses the main road in the development. The crossing should be a Zebra or Pelican type. The footpath should be a combined footpath / cycleway.

 

3.4  Environmental Objections

The GSN area will be only partially green space as roads/paths and part of the proposed new roundabout will take up some of it.  This area needs to remain as a properly functioning wildlife corridor along the line of the Den Burn. Roe deer are frequently seen in the area defined by Plot 1. 

The drainage system proposed for Plot 1 is a real disappointment and a missed opportunity to enhance both the GSN area and the visual appearance of the development.  The SUDS ponds which will replace the existing marshland are likely to be dried up for much of the year and will not provide the same opportunities for biodiversity and landscape enhancement as an open watercourse would.  The latter could easily be created by opening up the culverted Den Burn (ie. similar to the existing open watercourse south of the park-and-ride which supports a variety of wildlife and does not flood).  There are other prestige developments in the UK where a natural watercourse has been used very effectively to improve the developments visually but also support biodiversity. 

4.0 Kingswells Roundabout

 

4.1  Cults Spur

KCC note that the new Kingswells roundabout shows that the road from Cults has two lanes. There is an existing issue with this arrangement that could have an impact on the performance of the junction and KCC ask that the Roads Department officials consider this in their assessment of the Traffic Assessment.

The issue is that the use of the second lane is restricted by oncoming traffic. The road is too narrow, and it is dangerous to use the second lane unless you are at the front of the queued traffic. Consequently, if there are a few cars turning left the second lane can only be used if a driver overtakes queued cars on a bend. Signalling of the lights is such that the overtaking manoeuvre is performed when the lights could change and the space the driver thought was available for overtaking is instantly used up by oncoming traffic that has been given a green light.

The Traffic Assessment should take account of the restricted use of the second lane for traffic coming from Cults, or the road layout should be improved.

4.2  Right Turn Towards Fairley Road

KCC welcome the additional lane off the roundabout going north. It will allow safe right turning towards Fairley Road / merging into one lane.  

5.0 Bus Stops and Crossings on the A944


5.1  Bus stop at Kingswells Roundabout Westbound

The new Kingswells roundabout has been improved and this is welcomed. The new right turn lane to Kingswells has been provided, but the bus stop has been removed. The bus stop is required for use with Stagecoach buses. The position of the bus stop could present passengers with an additional lane of traffic to cross. The increased flow of traffic requires a crossing to assist bus users. The TA would have to be adjusted to account for the crossing

5.2  Bus stop at Prime Four Roundabout East and Westbound

Two new bus stops and a crossing are also required near the new roundabout. KCC note the intention to divert buses into the new development at peak times. The buses affected are those travelling to and from Aberdeen. The proposal does not make provision for bus users accessing the development from the west at any time, so a crossing would be required for those travelling west at peak times. The TA would have to be adjusted to account for the crossing

6.0 Limitation of the Traffic Assessment

 

6.1  Trip Distribution and Assignment

 KCC is concerned that ACC seem to be skewing the results of the Trip Distribution data for Kingswells in favour of walking. Refer to the following quote from the TA

6.3.2 Initial results of the gravity model were submitted to ACC or agreement. Given the proximity of Kingswells residential settlement, which lies to the immediate east of the proposed site, ACC were concerned that the initial results overestimated the percentage of vehicles likely to be attracted from Kingswells settlement area. ACC requested the percentage of trips be adjusted to take account of the likelihood of travel to and from Kingswells being undertaken by more sustainable modes.

6.3.3 To adjust the level of vehicle trips attributed to the Kingswells area in the gravity model, reference was made to Census data for the Newhills area (which includes the Kingswells settlement) which shows that of all trips undertaken wholly within the local area, 23.7% were car-based trips. Consequently, the vehicle trips from Kingswells have been adjusted in line with the Newhills census results, i.e. it has been assumed that 23.7% of the distribution from the Kingswells area will travel by car. The overall percentage distribution has therefore been adjusted on this basis and the results are indicated in Table 6-4 of this report.

The purpose of a TA should be to identify the maximum flow of traffic – not to minimise the flow. If the flow prediction is underestimated then the road network will be more crowded than it should be, and ACC will have lost the opportunity for the developer to pay for the infrastructure their developments use.

KCC think that many people may want to walk to work in the summer, but may not be so keen on a winter’s day. If the road network is designed for the summer figure then the roads will not be able to cope with the higher winter figure.

The figures are also skewed by not considering the traffic from the development planned at Countesswells. One of the main reasons for the Prime Four development was to provide employment land for people in the local area and to make more sustainable communities. 3,000 homes is a large number to ignore.

KCC is aware that Drum is not responsible for the development at Countesswells and should not be liable for the costs of providing infrastructure.  The modifications to Kingswells roundabout and the provision of a new roundabout on the A944 are significant improvements that ACC should ensure will be adequate for all developments planned. If additional capacity over and above that identified by Drum is required, it should be identified at this stage.  

6.2  Cumulative Impact on Road Network

The following is an extract from the TA.

5.5 Cumulative Impacts

5.5.1 With regards to wider cumulative transport impacts, beyond the studied network, the Council are currently consulting on Supplementary Planning Guidance which proposes a mechanism for securing developer contributions towards strategic transport infrastructure, including enhanced footway, cycling and public transport networks. As part of the Developers mitigation strategy (as detailed in Chapter 7) there will be wholesale upgrading of the Kingswells roundabout. To ensure the long term viability of the Business Park, the developer will seek to carry out this work as part of their contribution to the Strategic Transport Fund.

The contribution to the Strategic Transport Fund (STF) is to compensate for the impact the development has on the infrastructure that cannot be directly provided by making road improvements. Where the impact is too small to correct ACC should collect contributions that can be aggregated to account for improvements that would be required by the cumulative effect of several low impact developments.

The costs of improvements to the A944 are required as a direct result of the development and represent the costs required to make the development viable. Consequently, it is not appropriate for these costs to form ‘part of their contribution to the Strategic Transport Fund’.

The TA identifies that Queens Road and the Lang Stracht will be prime routes for vehicles accessing the new development. The Westhill Roundabout will also be impacted by the development. Although this TA has identified that no improvements will be required at the Westhill roundabout the development will reduce the spare capacity of the roundabout. The development should contribute to the STF for the ‘road capacity’ used on the above routes and roundabout.

Attachments

  1. Prime 4 Response (106.5 KiB)